All info you want to see before the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix starts
The 2021 Formula 1 World Championship season is coming to a close, with the final two races set to be run in the two upcoming weekends. At the inaugural 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) has the chance to seal the World Drivers’ Championship in his favor, after a year-long battle with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Verstappen has taken advantage of almost every situation given to him this year, and his RB16B has been the best of the field on most races, and the Dutchman has won nine races to this point.
Now, he needs to outscore Hamilton by at least 18 points on Sunday to seal the championship in his favor. Of course, Hamilton and Mercedes caught fire in the last two weekends and the British driver has taken consecutive wins at Brazil and Qatar.
Many expect Hamilton and Mercedes to be favorites at the brand new Jeddah Circuit, which demands power from cars. However, we’ve seen several predictions go wrong this year, and Q3 of the Qualifying session will be the moment that shows a bit of what is to come on Sunday’s race.
Verstappen leads the World Championship with 351.5 points over Hamilton’s 343.5. In the WCC, Mercedes now has 546.5 points, while Red Bull Racing remains within striking distance with 541.5.
There is a chance for the 2021 F1 WDC to go into the final race of the year at Abu Dhabi with Hamilton and Verstappen tied on points (if Hamilton wins with Fastest Lap and Verstappen finishes second). If that’s the case, Verstappen will still be the WDC leader heading into Abu Dhabi, as he would have more wins.
Ferrari clear of McLaren & Alpine clear of AlphaTauri?
The Scuderia Ferrari (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz) is now sitting comfortably in third place in the 2021 World Constructors’ Championship after another race with both cars on the points.
Ferrari now leads McLaren (Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo) by 39.5 points in the WCC. The Woking-based team scored only two points in Qatar, with Norris finishing ninth, and has scored with both cars only once in the last five races.
Alpine (with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon) looks strong in P5 in the WCC, with Alonso finishing third in Qatar and Ocon following in P5. AlphaTauri (Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda) now has a 25-point disadvantage against Alpine, after the team did not score points in Losail.
Aston Martin (Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll) scored points with its two drivers in Qatar and remains seventh in the WCC with 77 points, comfortably ahead of the three teams at the bottom.
Williams (George Russell and Nicholas Latifi) continues to struggle and now has five consecutive races without points. The team sits eighth in the WCC with 23 points. It will also be an emotional weekend for the team, as its founder, the legendary Frank Williams, recently passed away.
Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi) is ninth with 11 points, while Haas (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin) close out the Constructors’ standings without points.
2021 Saudi Arabian GP Facts & Figures
The 2021 edition will be the first of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Formula 1 history and the event will be a full-night race at the brand new Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
The event will start at 20:30 local time and should be a big challenge for drivers, as the twisty, fast circuit looks tremendously difficult.
It will be the 21st round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship, and the venue has been finished quite recently.
Jeddah Corniche Circuit information
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit will make its debut in Formula 1 next Sunday, and it is certainly one of the tensest races of the year, as Max Verstappen has the chance to secure the F1 World Drivers’ Championship.
The track is a 6.174 km long circuit with 27 corners and lots of areas that are expected to be high-speed and flat-out. It has been described the fastest street circuit in the world. The expected average speed around the circuit is over 250 km/h, which would be stunning to see.
The track could offer lots of overtaking opportunities, or none, but that will certainly be interesting to watch on Sunday. There will be three DRS zones throughout the lap, and it could prove essential in order to see lots of overtakes.
The race distance will be 308.45 km and will be run for 50 laps.
2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli explained their choice to go with the medium option with a statement in a press release:
“For the first visit to the spectacular new Jeddah street circuit in Saudi Arabia, the 34th country to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix, Pirelli is bringing the three compounds in the middle of the range: the C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft: the most commonly-selected nomination this year.
Jeddah is the second consecutive brand new circuit this year after Qatar two weeks ago, although the two tracks are completely different in terms of stress on the tyres – with Qatar being one of the most demanding circuits on the calendar for lateral forces. Jeddah is even more of a novel experience as the track has only just been completed, with very little data to rely on.
Existing data and simulations from teams suggested the three middle compounds in the range are the best option for Jeddah and they should be well-suited to the demands of this very fast and flowing street race, run over 50 laps.
This 6.174-kilometre track – which runs alongside the coast – is the longest street circuit on the calendar (the second-longest of the entire year, after Spa) and is also set to be one of the fastest too, with an average speed of over 250kph predicted in simulations. That’s only just behind Monza, well-known as the ‘Temple of Speed’.
One of the most demanding of the 27 corners is Turn 13: a left-hander featuring 12-degree banking that should place high g-forces on the tyres. Jeddah has more corners than any other track on the calendar, which will keep the tyres working hard.
Many parts of the circuit are quite narrow and unforgiving, with the walls close to the side of the track. This could lead to a reasonably high safety car probability, affecting strategy.
Jeddah is a night race, like all the last three races of the season, with the grand prix getting underway at 20:30 local time. This means that the pattern of track temperature is different to a normal race, with temperatures dropping over the course of each session. FP1 and FP3 are held just before sunset, with only FP2 on Friday and qualifying on Saturday (both starting at 20:00) likely to be representative of the race.
Conditions are set to be warm but humid, with the track located right along the northern coast at Jeddah. As it's never been used before, drivers can expect a slippery and ‘green’ track at the start of the weekend. Formula 2 and a Porsche competition are running as support events, which will help track evolution.”
2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Weather Forecast
Friday, Dec 3rd - FP1 & FP2
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Sunday, Dec 5th - Race
Conditions: Clear and warm
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 1%
Who will be on the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix podium?
Many expect Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to have a favorable weekend at Jeddah, especially with Mercedes’ top people indicating that the team will put the powerful engine Hamilton won with in Brazil in the W12.
Of course, it could give Mercedes an advantage over Red Bull in the power-hungry Jeddah Circuit, but the race has to still be run and anything could happen in such a difficult circuit. In powerful tracks, we saw other teams take a step forward, such as McLaren, which won at Monza and competed tremendously at Russia before the late rain.
Will McLaren be a player in the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix? The team will definitely appreciate it, as it has struggled since the Russian Grand Prix and has fallen behind Ferrari in the fight for P3 in the WCC.
Mercedes would also welcome another team fighting alongside Red Bull for top places, as Hamilton continues behind Verstappen in the WDC despite taking consecutive wins.
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) will need to be up there with their teammates in order to help their respective team members in the fight for the F1 Drivers’ title. Both were not really in the mix at Qatar due to different reasons, and their respective teams will require them to be competitive at Jeddah.
Once again, here we go with my favorite note of the race preview, as the title battle is getting to a tense end in these last two weeks.
The prediction for the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is definitely reserved and could be an answer to give after Friday’s Free Practice sessions or even right after the start of the event (even then, it might be too soon to tell).
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